In early 2008, the following email was sent to the general listserv of the National Association of Professional Organizers’ San Francisco Bay Area chapter (NAPO-SFBA):

I’ve been contacted by…Rebuilding Together, the national organization that does Habitat for Humanity type rebuilds and remodels of both private homes and non-profit organization’s facilities.

I was a construction captain a few years ago on a fabulous remodel of the basement of the Larkin Street Youth Center and last year did assessments on two homes…

Apparently there are projects in communities all around the Bay Area, but if you’d like to team up with a corporate sponsor and do some great work while showing off your organizing skills and NAPO’s community spirit–please let me know asap.

Really? A unique opportunity to stretch one’s organizing muscles, volunteer for an awesome nonprofit and cause, AND be part of a team that positively impacts the lives of strangers? “Please do put me on the list! I’d love to help if the timing’s right,” I responded to my colleague, Victoria Roberts-Russell.

Two weeks later, another email landed in my inbox. This one contained descriptions of various projects that could benefit from the input of a professional organizers. I signed on, completed a project, and was hooked. When it was over, I wondered how we could get more organizers on board with this seemingly natural partnership and began conspiring with Victoria and our enthusiastic associates at RTSF. (more…)

It’s early April, and that means Rebuilding Together season is in full bloom. This is my third year participating through the local affiliate – Rebuilding Together San Francisco (RTSF) – of the national organization that brings skilled and unskilled volunteers together to make improvements in the lives of low-income, senior, and disabled homeowners and nonprofit and community facilities.

I realize that for the majority of volunteers, RTSF projects begin and end when the project begins and ends. They get in there, they do the work, and they get to relish in the physical transformation that unfolds beneath their paint brushes and between reaches for their toolbelt. That is one part of the transformation – the visible.

There is also the invisible that happens over a period of time as a homeowner, for example, eases into the changes. Life is suddenly a little bit different and greatly enhanced. They probably have new paint on their walls and the kitchen faucet no longer leaks. It’s possible their belongings have been purged and rearranged and that all takes some getting used to. (Think about a small home remodel and how invigorated yet discombobulated you feel when it’s finished.) As with most clients I’ve had the honor of collaborating with, the result of our work often yields unforeseen changes. (more…)

POWER flagOver the past few months, I have been chief instigator and coordinator for a group of fellow San Francisco-based organizers for our participation in Get Organized (GO) Month, an annual event sponsored by the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). During our bi-monthly meeting in November, our group of eight agreed to seek out several San Francisco-based nonprofits to which we would offer pro bono organizing services.*

When beginning the search for eligible nonprofits, a call to my esteemed and enthusiastic colleagues at Rebuilding Together San Francisco (RTSF) proved fortuitous on many levels. Their facilities application deadline had just closed for the 2010 National Rebuilding Day activities. Within a day or so, they identified two facilities whose applications specifically mentioned the need for organizing assistance, and one of those seemed to be a likely venue for RTSF’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day undertaking sponsored by Kaiser. There we were, two entities searching for a venue to assist in the month of January. Bingo! (more…)

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